Zero to One Hundred: Social Media and Isolation at Camp

Jori Reiken
5 min readJan 28, 2022

A summer away from technology and social media, but there is a day we go home. My summer camp experience was not one that is uncommon. Although I went to overnight camp for 10 summers, many of those I felt isolated and alone in my cabin group, even though I loved camp. This isolation I felt in my cabin did not make me think twice about how and where I spent my summers, but every year, the weekend after the last day of camp, where everyone comes home and turns on their social media, was a weekend I felt more alone than ever. This paper will discuss and analyze my experience coming home from camp using Marx’s theory of alienation, networked individualism, the affordances of mobile technology, and the reflections that come with these experiences through phenomenology.

Alienation can be described as “both a feeling and an objective condition of powerlessness that results from the way we work and ownership that is organized in society” (Week 3, Slide 2). At camp, alienation could be the feeling of being isolated from your cabin group, the feeling that you don’t fit in, or being pushed away from the group because that person is different. In my personal experience, I experienced alienation as all 3 of those examples. In modern Marxism, alienation refers to how humans are dominated by their work and the for-profit system (Week 3, Slide 6), at camp, this system isn’t the profit system and capitalism but it is popularity. The theory remains the same, and the feelings and emotions are similar, as the topic of stress coming from what society deems valuable. In Modern Marxist theories, the society deems capitalism and money valuable, at camp your network and connections are what are deemed to be valuable and important.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, one’s network and connections are important in the camp society. This means that one person’s network contributes to their status in the camp environment. In networked individualism, each person is tied to a network system that helps them and provides constraints, rules, procedures etc (Week 4, Slide 3). In the camp environment, one’s network creates opportunities for them, popularity allows for one to receive awards and positions of honour at the camp, whereas having a small network means you miss out on these opportunities. Rather than focusing on the group, the individual is valued based on the size and the quality of their groups, and their connection to their network. This means that people who aren’t as connected aren’t…